Sociology and Social Policy

BA (Hons)


Sociology concentrates on analysing and understanding the way in which society works; Social Policy is concerned with the analysis of the purposes, processes and outcomes of social welfare.

Stirling’s international and comparative approach means that you will encounter topics that analyse society and welfare issues in a range of countries. Stirling offers particular expertise on Scotland, the UK, the European Union, Western and Central Europe, Australasia, North America and Latin America. Sociology and Social Policy lend themselves particularly well to study by students returning to education whilst still at work.

Key information

EU Applicants
The Scottish Government has confirmed that EU students enrolling in the 2017 academic year will be entitled to free tuition fees in Scotland. EU Students will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will retain that status for the duration of their four year degree. EU students will also be eligible for tuition fee support from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).

  • UCAS: L431
  • Qualification: BA (Hons)
  • Study methods: Campus based, Full-time
  • Start date: September
  • Course Director: Dr Bill Munro
  • Faculty: Faculty of Social Sciences

Download undergraduate prospectus

William Munro

Faculty of Social Sciences
University of Stirling

View fees and finance

What makes us different?

A high level of satisfaction in Sociology teaching at Stirling (80%) was indicated by the 2015 National Student Survey.

There is a very strong practical/applied focus at Stirling. There are strong links between research (notably through research centres such as the Dementia Centre, and the Scottish Centre for Crime Justice Research, the Scottish Addiction Studies research group within the University) and teaching.  Lecturers involved in applied work on, for example, police practice, dementia, children affected by parental substance use, substance use, development or economic cooperation draw on this research in their teaching.  

Internally, Sociology and Social Policy lecturers have received University awards for their teaching from the Students’ Union while many other lecturers in the Faculty were nominated for these awards.

The Stirling degree structure is very flexible in the first two years allowing students to experiment with new subjects.

Students receive tuition in both qualitative and quantitative research methods. This learning is applied in Year 4 dissertation module.

Year 1 modules bridge the gap between school and university study through coursework assessments which provide students with a trial run before attempting coursework essays.

A mentoring system is also in place for Year 3 students entering Honours.

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Four-year Honours degree

SQA Higher:
ABBB - one sitting.
AABB - two sittings.

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
32 points.

BTEC (Level 3):

Three-year degree

SQA Adv Higher:
ABB - one sitting.

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
35 points.

Essential subjects:
To include Sociology.

Other qualifications

Year one entry
Scottish HNC/D - Bs in graded units
English, Welsh and NI HNC/D - Merits and Distinctions.
Advanced entry
Year 2 and year 3 entry may be possible with an HNC/D in Social Science. Please consult our Advanced Entry pages for more information.

Access courses:
Access courses and other UK/EU and international qualifications are also welcomed.

Additional information

General entrance requirements apply.
Mathematics Standard Grade (3), National 5 (C), Intermediate 2 (C), GCSE (C) or equivalent required.
Students with no Mathematics may be considered although alternative entry conditions may be applied.

If examinations are taken over two sittings, or there are repeats or upgrades, the entrance requirements may be higher.

INTO University of Stirling offers an International Foundation programme for those international students who do not meet the required academic and English-language criteria. This course offers a route to study at University of Stirling through an excellent teaching and learning experience located in the high-quality study facilities on campus. Successful completion of the International Foundation in Media, Humanities and Social Sciences to the required standard provides guaranteed progression to this degree.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

More information on our English language requirements

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Fees and costs

Fees 2017/8

Overseas students (non-EU) £11,845.00
Scottish and EU students £1,820.00
Students from the rest of the UK £6,750.00 per year for a maximum of 4 years

Fees 2018/9

Overseas students (non-EU) £12,140.00
Scottish and EU students £1,820.00
Students from the rest of the UK £9,250.00

From 2016/7 onwards, the fees for overseas undergraduates will be held at the level upon entry.

Please note: Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish government. Students from the rest of the UK can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.

Please note there is an additional charge for the conferral of your degree. This will be charged at the rate applicable when you complete your studies. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

Students take Sociology plus two other subjects in Year 1.

Semesters 1 - 3

Students take core modules in:

  • Social Differentiation: explores gender, age, ethnicity, class and disability in relation to the ways in which individuals and groups are valued and treated in different societies
  • Social Problems: contemporary social issues and policy responses
  • Understanding Social Policy: historical and theoretical perspectives on welfare; comparative social policy analysis

Semesters 4 - 8

You must take core advanced modules in:

  • Development of Social Theory
  • The Research Process: Introduction to methods of social research and analysis, including practical and project work

Optional modules currently include:

  • Ageing, Society and Social Policy
  • Contemporary Social Issues in Practice
  • Co-operation and Society
  • Disability and Society
  • Drugs, Crime and Society
  • Gender, Work and Welfare
  • Health and Society
  • Housing Policy
  • Information Technology in Society
  • Poverty, Income and Wealth
  • Scottish Society
  • Social Stratification
  • Sociology of the Body
  • Sociology of Childhood
  • Sociology of Development
  • Sociology of Youth
  • Urban Society
  • Work, Class and Society

Final-year Honours students are also required to undertake a dissertation and Honours seminar.

Delivery and assessment

Teaching for each course in Sociology and/or Social Policy usually consists of two lectures plus one workshop per week. Assessment in each course is normally based on a combination of coursework and examinations for example, one essay (30 percent) and an examination (70 percent). The final-year dissertation counts for two modules and provides an opportunity to put research methods studied into practice while focusing on an area of particular interest to the student.

Combined degrees

CourseUCAS Code
Sociology (three-year degree) L300
Social Policy (three-year degree) L400
Sociology and Social Policy L431


Combined Honours Degrees

Social Policy can be studied with:
CourseUCAS Code
Politics LL24

Sociology can be studied with:
CourseUCAS Code
Criminology LM39
Film & Media LP33
History LV31
Politics LL23
Psychology CL83
Religion LV36
Spanish LR34

(For a Combined Honours degree the higher entrance requirements of the subjects usually apply.)

Learn more about studying these subjects

Related degrees

Criminology; Social Work.

Recommended reading

Marsh, I. et al. (2009) Sociology: Making Sense of Society, Harlow: Pearson, 4th edition
McIntosh, I and Punch, S, 2005, Get Set for Sociology, Edinburgh University Press.
McIntosh, I, 1997, Classical Sociological Theory: A Reader, Edinburgh University Press
Ridge, T and Wright, S (eds), 2008, Understanding Inequality, Poverty and Wealth: Policies and Prospects, The Policy Press, Bristol

Modes of study

Full-time (three modules per semester).
Part-time (one or two modules per semester).
January entry also available - see semester dates

Find out more

Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.

Teaching for each course in Sociology and/or Social Policy usually consists of two lectures plus one workshop per week. Assessment in each course is normally based on a combination of coursework and examinations for example, one essay (30 percent) and an examination (70 percent). The final-year dissertation counts for two modules and provides an opportunity to put research methods studied into practice while focusing on an area of particular interest to the student.

Why Stirling?


In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.


Teaching provision in Sociology has been assessed by the Scottish Funding Council and rated as ‘excellent’.

3rd in Scotland and 10th in the UK for Social Policy (Times Good University Guide 2016)

3rd in Scotland and 15th in the UK for Social Policy (Guardian's University League Tables 2017)

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes applications from all countries.

Study abroad opportunities

You can spend a semester (usually Semester 6) at another university in Europe, USA, Canada or Australia.


Our modules are taught by acknowledged experts in their various academic fields and teaching is closely informed by the latest developments in social research. This ensures that our teaching engages with real-world issues in a critical, informed and engaging manner.

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

Stirling Sociology and Social Policy graduates have a higher-than-average (in the UK) employment rate in degree relevant careers. Our graduates work in the private, public and voluntary sectors. There are some careers where a sociology degree is a requirement, for example working as a sociological researcher or a lecturer or teacher of sociology. However there are many more opportunities where the knowledge and understanding students acquire in studying sociology is highly valued, for example work in local government, for the police or prison service, social work, work in the voluntary sector, or in human resources.

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